Monthly Archives: March 2013

Parveen Rehman: The legend lives on

By Dr Masuma Hasan

Slender, almost frail, with her hair down to her waist, her captivating smile and melodious voice, Parween Rahman was a legend in her lifetime. An assailant’s bullets took her life on Wednesday 13 March, 2013 as she was being driven home from work. The target killer snuffed out her life but the legend that she was will live forever. She was 56 years old.
Continue reading Parveen Rehman: The legend lives on

Language and thinking

By Zubeida Mustafa

EDUCATION is a much talked about issue in today’s Pakistan. Unfortunately it provokes little serious thinking and even less action. I keep hoping that this talk will turn into action sooner than later. Until that happens we need to continue talking to keep the matter alive.

At the Karachi Literature Festival recently the session on education which brought a number of top-ranking educationists together was, therefore, a positive move. As could have been expected, the speakers could only touch the tip of the iceberg.

One issue that came up in the course of the discussion that followed was that of critical thinking. Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy, a very articulate example of a critical thinker, was spot on when he said that no school was teaching its students how to think — be it an elitist expensive institution or a low-fee community school. Continue reading Language and thinking

Times of paradoxes

By Zubeida Mustafa

WHAT a world of contrasts we live in. We have heartwarming tidings entwined with horrible news. We have compassionate souls struggling to save lives alongside brutes who blow the life out of people.

Then we have a government that is an intriguing compound of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Its conscience is not moved when it fails to provide security to the citizens while the police force guards the privileged of the land leaving ordinary folks vulnerable to acts of terror. But this very same government becomes the first to steer the Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act 2013 (Thota) through the Sindh Assembly unanimously — an act of great humanity. Continue reading Times of paradoxes

In letter and spirit

By Zubeida Mustafa

Activism is action for change. And if change is to result in progress and not chaos, the process must have leadership. In Pakistan most changes that have been experienced in the lives of women have been driven by activists or in other cases they have evolved from socio-economic compulsions. By its very nature, activism has been a risky game because it seeks change that undermines the power of the upholders of the status quo. In the case of women, activism has called for greater courage because it has an impact on society as a whole and not just a narrow section.

Take the Women’s Action Forum. It was born in the Zia era which is widely acknowledged as being the period when the most anti-women laws in Pakistan’s history were enacted in the name of Islamisation. Where would have we been today had the 17 founder members of the Women’s Action Forum not reacted to the harsh judgment handed down under the Hudood Ordinances in 1981?

Hence the decade of the 1980s may be called Continue reading In letter and spirit

For Perween Rehman

For Perween Rehman

 By Anwar Rashid

You got scared

of an innocent fledging little bird

like all cowards

how easily scared you are

The twitter of bulbuls

the softness of the clouds

the refreshing spray of cold water

has scared you

like all cowards

how easily scared you are


You can kill one Perween

but you cannot kill

the power of an idea

what you have done

has increased commitment and courage

and sense of purpose


The light of knowledge

will continue to spread

and with it awareness

in the villages and fields


On the lips of those

who have no shoes

there will be the smile of contentment

in the dancing fields

the sound of bangles

on the cheeks of the workers

the glitter of earings


These symbols of love

are messages to the enemies of peace

listen to them cowardly assassin

for we are not alone

we are not alone

(Translated from Urdu by Arif Hasan)